Plans for Marine Sanctuary in Antarctic Fail

Written by on September 18, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law
Emperor penguins in the Southwest Ross Sea, from NOAA's Ark Animals COllection. Photo credit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA.

Emperor penguins in the Southwest Ross Sea, from NOAA’s Ark Animals COllection. Photo credit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA.

For two years, the U.S. and New Zealand have been trying to reach an agreement on a marine sanctuary, roughly the size of Alaska, in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.  Fishing would be banned in the sanctuary and it would become a place where scientists could study climate change, free from human disruption.

Just this month, the compromise failed when senior New Zealand politicians rejected it, even though this region only accounts for less than two percent of their fishing industry.  As a whole, the Ross Sea fishery is small, only worth about $60 million per year.  In New Zealand it is worth only $16 million of their billion dollar industry.

The Ross Sea is so important to conservationists because it remains largely untainted by mankind.  Evan Bloom, director of the U.S. State Department‘s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, explains that it is possibly the best place on Earth for scientists to study changes without human interference.

“If you can’t do it in Antarctica, where can you do it?” he asked.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has taken particular interest in the outcome of this negotiation, called it “one of the last great marine wilderness areas on the planet.”

You can read more from the Huffington Post here: Antarctica Marine Sanctuary Plans for Ross Sea Falter.

Coulman Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica, from NOAA's At The Ends of the Earth Collection. Photo credit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA.

Coulman Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica, from NOAA’s At The Ends of the Earth Collection. Photo credit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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